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Peach orchard in bloom, near Selma

Don Bain's 360° Panoramas of the

San Joaquin Valley

San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Merced, Madera, Fresno, Kings, Tulare, and Kern Counties, California



The San Joaquin Valley is considered to be the richest agricultural region in the world. A combination of drainage and irrigation transformed it from marshland, alkali grassland, riparian woodland, and oak savanna, to orchards, vineyards, row crops, dairy farms, and pastures.

A total of 230 crops are grown in the Central Valley. Long sunny summers and mild winters make it ideal for high value crops such as grapes, fruits, and nuts, including Mediterranean crops that are not grown anywhere else in the US, such as olives, pomegranates, pistachios, and figs. The top four agricultural counties in the US are all here: Fresno, Tulare, Kern, and Merced.

Water system infrastructure is visible everywhere in the valley, huge dams in the foothills, great aqueducts, local canals, drainage ditches. Irrigation is effected by flooding, sprinklers, drip systems, and furrow siphons.

Fresno is the largest city in the valley, but Merced has a campus of the University of California. Allensworth, now a state historical park, was founded by and for African Americans. Other ethnicities are notable in the valley: Armenians in Fresno, Basques in Los Banos, Swedes in Kingsburg, Sikhs in Stockton.


Choose one of the localities from the Table of Contents below to see thumbnail images of the panoramas.
Table of Contents
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Posters of Central California
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Benchmark Atlas